How the Army can work around states cracking down on abortion, trans rights
As states like Texas, Oklahoma and Alabama pass legislation that prohibits transgender children from seeking gender-affirming care, and women from terminating their pregnancies, service members have been looking to their chains of command for solutions.While none of the services have explicitly created policies that would address these concerns, the Army made headlines recently when its…
As states like Texas, Oklahoma and Alabama pass legislation that prohibits transgender children from seeking gender-affirming care, and women from terminating their pregnancies, service members have been looking to their chains of command for solutions.While none of the services have explicitly created policies that would address these concerns, the Army made headlines recently when its top enlisted soldier told lawmakers that the service was exploring ways to ensure female soldiers would have access to safe, legal abortions despite being stationed in states where they are being banned.While nothing has made it out of the idea phase, Sergeant Major of the Army Michael Grinston told Army Times that existing Army policies can apply to these situations, as something of a stop-gap while the service figures out what can be done in the long term.“If you have a soldier that’s struggling with an issue, and there’s no guidelines on it, don’t ignore it,” he said during a May 30 interview. “That’s what it means to be ‘in my squad.’ “For example, soldiers are already able to take leave to get medical care when an on-post facility doesn’t offer it. Commanders, theoretically, already have the authority to grant non-chargeable leave ― meaning it wouldn’t come out of vacation time ― so their troops can leave the state to secure a legal abortion.While military treatment centers aren’t subject to state laws, military doctors aren’t able to perform abortions because of a 1976 law that prohibits using federal funding to pay for abortions except in cases of rape, incest or threat to the life of the mother.And unlike organizations like Planned Parenthood, which also can’t use its federal funding on abortions, troops couldn’t just pay out of pocket for an abortion from a military care provider, as those doctors could face licensing repercussions in states where private doctors are subject to criminal prosecution.So assuming female soldiers are able to find an abortion provider out of state and secure non-chargeable leave from their chains of command, there is still the issue of travel expenses.That’s something the Army may be able to get covered through legislation, though nothing specifically has been proposed.“It’s never always going to fit into that mold. It may not say that word. It may not say this word,” Grinston said of current medical travel policies, which do cover expenses. “But you apply a little bit of leadership and think is that’s what’s right for our families. And then get that to somebody that can help.”And while military health providers are able to prescribe gender-affirming medications and procedures, access could be in jeopardy in states where that care is banned for anyone under 18.In that case, soldiers can enroll their dependents in the Exceptional Family Member Program, which is designed to ensure soldiers whose families have particular medical needs get stationed in locations where they can be met.Unfortunately, it’s still not a guaranteed fix. EFMP is notoriously difficult to navigate, with its resources and guidelines inconsistent from installation to installation.RELATEDLast year, a group of lawmakers introduced a bill that would prevent troops with transgender dependents from being stationed in states where their care is outlawed, but the House Armed Services Committee hasn’t moved on it.Grinston said he’s not personally received a lot of questions from soldiers about abortion or transgender policies, but in May, he got a handful of them from a House Appropriations Committee panel.“We are drafting policies to ensure we take care of our soldiers in an appropriate way,” he told lawmakers, in the wake of a leaked Supreme Court draft decision that would overturn Roe v. Wade. “There are drafts if it were to be overturned, but that would be a decision for the secretary of the Army.”Grinston has since revised that statement, going back to Capitol Hill in late May to clarify what he meant.“We’re constantly trying to do what’s right for our service, no matter what’s going on the nation, ” he told Army Times, though there isn’t actually draft policy that is working its way through approval channels. “But this is just the Army. We’ve done this. And then any decisions will be made by the secretary.”Meghann Myers is the Pentagon bureau chief at Military Times. She covers operations, policy, personnel, leadership and other issues affecting service members. Follow on Twitter @Meghann_MT
Britney Spears Shares ‘Like a Virgin’ Dance With Madonna at Her Wedding
Spears is seen getting close to Madonna for some “Like a Virgin” fun in a new video from her wedding reception. Madonna, with special guest singer Britney Spears, performs during her Sticky and Sweet Tour at Dodger Stadium on November 6, 2008 in Los Angeles, California. Kevin Winter/GI The footage from Britney Spears and Sam…
Spears is seen getting close to Madonna for some “Like a Virgin” fun in a new video from her wedding reception. Madonna, with special guest singer Britney Spears, performs during her Sticky and Sweet Tour at Dodger Stadium on November 6, 2008 in Los Angeles, California. Kevin Winter/GI The footage from Britney Spears and Sam Asghari’s wedding keeps coming. In a new clip shared on social media on Saturday (June 11), Spears gave fans one more glimpse at what it was like to celebrate with her famous friends, courtesy of another clip featuring Madonna. Spears is seen smooching and dancing with her husband, showing off her wedding gown and getting close to Madonna for a little “Like a Virgin” fun in a series of wedding reception videos posted this weekend. Explore See latest videos, charts and news See latest videos, charts and news Spears and Asghari tied the knot on Thursday (June 9), eight months after they announced their engagement. The pair met in 2016 on the set of the singer’s “Slumber Party” video. “LIVING IS GIVING … pssss don’t worry I had my first diamond thong underneath my jacket … hope I didn’t offend anyone,” the pop star captioned the latest post from her wedding celebration, where at some point in the night she’d also recreated her legendary kiss with Madonna from the 2003 MTV VMAs. In another cute video that had already circulated after the nuptials, Spears, Madonna, Paris Hilton, Selena Gomez, Drew Barrymore and Donatella Versace were seen singing along to another Madonna’s classic, “Vogue.” Check out the “Like a Virgin” moment, which happens about 23 seconds into the clip below. Get weekly rundowns straight to your inbox Subscribe
Military abortion options expected to be debated in annual defense bill process
The nationwide debate over abortion will be a key point of contention in the upcoming defense authorization bill process later this month, with a key Democratic lawmaker saying the issue needs to be part of the military readiness discussion.“If readiness is impacted by the fact that women are going to have to travel thousands of…
The nationwide debate over abortion will be a key point of contention in the upcoming defense authorization bill process later this month, with a key Democratic lawmaker saying the issue needs to be part of the military readiness discussion.“If readiness is impacted by the fact that women are going to have to travel thousands of miles when they are in need of an abortion service, then we need to look at that,” Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., and chairwoman of the House Armed Services Committee’s personnel panel, said this week.Committee staff said no specific language regarding military abortion services or access was included in the personnel section of the measure approved on Wednesday. Instead, the language focuses on things like the annual military pay raise and family support provisions.But committee members will be able to offer a wide range of amendments on the issue as part of the full committee mark up on June 22.RELATEDSpeier would not specify what proposals she or her colleagues will offer on the issue, but said that servicemembers should not be treated like “second-class citizens” when it comes to access to health care services.“We need to clarify for service members who are raped, subjected to incest or have situations in which their life is at risk: Where can they actually get an abortion?” she said.Last week, Speier and 81 other Democratic House members unveiled legislation that would allow military medical treatment facilities to provide abortion services to members of the military. Under current law, those procedures are banned except in cases of rape, incest and critical medical need.But supporters say they believe a change is needed in the wake of reports that the Supreme Court later this summer could overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision which legalized abortion across America.RELATEDAt least 26 states — including locations like Texas, with major military bases — have indicated they will outlaw the procedure within days of such a Supreme Court decision. Speier and other democratic lawmakers have said that would leave military members assigned to those locations without medical options if they find themselves in need of an abortion.Separately, numerous lawmakers have asked for defense officials to clarify rules regarding leave time and travel assistance if female troops seek an abortion across state lines. Army officials have said they are looking into the issue.Past committee debates over the availability of abortion services at overseas military bases have provided some contentious moments in the annual defense bill work, with conservative lawmakers firmly against any loosening of the current rules.Leo covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He has covered Washington, D.C. since 2004, focusing on military personnel and veterans policies. His work has earned numerous honors, including a 2009 Polk award, a 2010 National Headliner Award, the IAVA Leadership in Journalism award and the VFW News Media award.
Mo Donegal wins pulling away, leads 1-2 finish for Pletcher at Belmont Stakes
NEW YORK: Triple Crown veteran Todd Pletcher had simple advice Saturday for jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. before the Belmont Stakes. “Be patient,” Pletcher said. “I think you have the best last quarter of any horse in the race.” Sometimes, less is Mo. Mo Donegal pulled away down the home stretch and held off filly Nest…
NEW YORK: Triple Crown veteran Todd Pletcher had simple advice Saturday for jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. before the Belmont Stakes. “Be patient,” Pletcher said. “I think you have the best last quarter of any horse in the race.” Sometimes, less is Mo. Mo Donegal pulled away down the home stretch and held off filly Nest to win the Belmont Stakes, giving Pletcher a 1-2 finish and his sixth Triple Crown victory, including four at this track on the outskirts of New York City. “To be honest with you, we were a little confident going into the race today,” Donegal Racing CEO and co-owner Jerry Crawford said. “When he turned for home, I was like, forget about it. I know Todd thought he could get a strong last quarter mile, and he surely did.” Rich Strike, a stunning Kentucky Derby winner at 80-to-1 odds, was sixth. Mo Donegal rounded the 1 1/2-mile distance in 2 minutes, 28.28 seconds, three lengths ahead of Nest — ridden by Ortiz’s brother, Jose. Pletcher, who lives on Long Island, adds another Belmont title following wins with Rags to Riches in 2007, Palace Malice in 2013 and Tapwrit in 2017. Mo Donegal beat an eight-horse field without a clear favorite. We the People, a monster in the mud, opened at 2 to 1 amid a rainy forecast but reached 7 to 2 by race time as showers held off. Mo Donegal entered the gate the betting favorite at 5 to 2. We the People led for much of the race, but Mo Donegal and Ortiz took charge coming out of the final turn. The 3-year-old colt paid $7.20, $3.80 and $3. Nest — who nearly became Pletcher’s second filly to win Belmont after Rags to Riches — paid $5.30 and $4.10. Skippylongstocking was third and returned $5.60 to show. We the People finished fourth. Rich Striker owner Rick Dawson and trainer Eric Reed held the Kentucky Derby winner out of the Preakness with an eye on Belmont, the first healthy horse to skip Pimlico after winning the Triple Crown’s first even since 1985. Reed said the team encouraged jockey Sonny Leon to try pushing Rich Strike from the outside, but the horse kept trying to get back inside — where he made a late charge past 19 horse to win at Churchill Downs. Rich Strike spent much of the race in last place and couldn’t recover. “I think we just made a tactical error,” Reed said. Just like Rich Strike, Mo Donegal was at the back of the pack at the Derby, but the colt didn’t have enough kick at Churchill Downs. He found it Saturday, winning the 154th running of the $1.5 million race. Mo Donegal made a winner out of co-owner Mike Repole, a local entrepreneur known around the track as “Mike from Queens.” Repole also co-owns Nest. “This is New York’s biggest race and to win it here, with my family and friends and 70 people here, this will be a big winner’s circle,” he said. It’s the fourth straight year the Triple Crown contests were won by three different horses, a first for the sport since 1926-29. The race marked a return to form for Belmont itself after the 2020 Stakes were closed to the public due to the pandemic and the 2021 event was limited to 11,238 spectators by virus restrictions. Capacity was capped again, this time at 50,000, because of congestion concerns stemming from the newly built arena next door for the NHL’s New York Islanders. Still, fans crammed into cars on the Long Island Rail Road and breathed life into the 117-year-old track with floral headwear, pastel suits and the unmistakable musk of booze and cigars. The reported attendance of 46,103 fell far short of the grounds record 120,139 set in 2004. Not much of a surprise, given the shaky weather forecast and the lack of a Triple Crown contender. The field was sparse, too. No horse ran all three Triple Crown legs this year, heightening concern that three races in five weeks may be too tight a schedule to keep the horses healthy. Preakness winner Early Voting was sidelined, likely to prepare for the $1.25 million Travers Stakes at Saratoga Race Course on Aug. 27. Epicenter, the runner-up at the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, also skipped. In the $500,000 Acorn for 3-year-old fillies, Matareya romped to a 6 1/4-length victory. Favorite Echo Zulu scratched at the post on the advice of the track veterinarian. Trained by Brad Cox and ridden by Flavien Prat, Matareya ($2.60) ran the mile in 1:35.77, winning for the fifth time in eight career starts. Heavily favored Flightline got off a step slow, overcame an early traffic issue and cruised to a six-length victory in the $1 million Hill ‘N’ Dale Metropolitan Mile. The victory kept the 4-year-old Tapit colt undefeated in four career starts. This was the first one he did not win by double-digit lengths. Flightline ($2.90) was also ridden by Prat and trained by John Sadler.